Hockey Tactics

Conall’s Hockey Coaching Corner: Cutting off Hands

Making proper contact to obtain the puck

Hope you guys enjoyed my first installment of Conall’s Coaching Corner.  It is a lot of fun to share these terms and habits with you all.  These little nuances of the game are incredibly important to point out in order to help my players grow as hockey players. Today we are going to talk about “Cutting off Hands” a phrase that is used frequently on hockey benches around the world.

The term “Cutting off Hands” I think is fairly self explanatory.  The idea is to use your stick and come over the top of the other players stick, and low enough so you do not make stick contact with the opponents hands. Then stick your shoulder/backside into their mid section (think of Jagr defending a puck in the corner).  It is the ideal way to win a loose puck battle and obtain possession.

It drives me up the wall seeing a player going for a big hit with their stick in the air and hands high. This looks cool if you are a high schooler trying to impress your classmates, but does little beyond that.  If you are a coach teaching the game to players of all ages, you want to make sure they make proper contact and “cut off hands”.  These three clips are great examples of this in three different areas of the ice.

Clip 1

Here we have Rangers 2020 first round pick Braden Schneider.  Schneider goes back for a puck, makes proper contact to separate the man from the puck, cuts off his hands, and moves the puck up the ice. Side note: I’ve had this clip downloaded on my computer since since the draft.  I cannot for the life of me find the person who shared this video on Twitter.  If someone knows who it was I would love to give them proper credit.

Clip 2

A loose puck race.  You will see the Sabres player make an area pass to himself, initiate proper contact by cutting off the defenders hands, and creating separation by sticking his backside into the players mid section.  This allows for a slot line pass and a near goal. Again, cutting off the hands in hockey leads to better opportunities.

Clip 3

Tomas Hertl on the forecheck.  We all remember our friend Tomas “four goal” Hertl.  Here we see him be an ideal F1 on the forecheck. Hertl makes an area pass behind the the defenders.  He proceeds to initiate contact and cut off the defenders hands using both his stick and body position.  This eventually leads to a goal.

It is important to remember the purpose of a hit is to get the puck back.  When you go for a big hit, you more often than not take yourself out of the play too.  The best defense is to have the puck on your stick. So cut off those hands, stick that ass in their gut, and touch puck.  That is a hell of a lot more important than laying someone out.

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  • Love the subtle aspects of body checking, Coach. We casual viewers and fans get carried away with the highlight reel types big hits seen on SportsCenter that we don’t pick up the nuances of defensive hockey that you see. Thanks & nice job!

  • Cutting off hands? In all my life surrounded by hockey, I have never heard that phrase. Imo it’s a weird catch phrase from a basic tying up of one’s stick. I have played against and talked to plenty of Western Canadians, Quebec, Minnesota and north/south Dakota natives. Never once has this phrase been brought up. I tried to look it up assuming I have been living under a rock. The only explanation that it brought me to was a post 5 hrs ago aka this one lol. I don’t think I’ll ever hear this saying again, it’s to complicated vs a stick tie -> of course you’re on the right side of the puck (even if you’re beat from the inside or in front). You should have shown Mcd famous stick work when chasing opposition from behind.

    The way you explained it sounded like a manouvour that you make in the sport lacrosse… When you get beat and need a desperation stick check from over the top.

    The clips didn’t even show remotely close to what you said here. Just a couple of stick ties that end up being good timing with stick lifts.

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